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Game Preview: Canadiens vs. Lightning

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

LIGHTNING (41-20-6) @ CANADIENS (42-18-6)

First place in the East’s Atlantic Division will be on the line on Tuesday when the Canadiens host the Lightning at the Bell Centre.

The Canadiens host the Lightning at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Just two points separate last year’s first-round playoff foes atop the division standings, although Montreal currently holds a game in hand on a Tampa team which it will meet three times in the month of March.

Head coach Michel Therrien isn’t expected to make any changes to his roster on Tuesday, opting instead to ice the same lineup used in Arizona on Saturday. That means Manny Malhotra and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau should once again be the healthy scratches for a fourth game in a row.

Therrien also confirmed on Monday that while Alexei Emelin will not suit up against the Lightning, the 28-year-old defenseman is very close to a return and should be considered day-to-day.

Carey Price, meanwhile, will be back in goal for the 53rd time in 2014-15 and could equal his career-best 38 wins in a single season with one over Tampa.

All three of the latest Habs newcomers will make their Bell Centre debuts on Tuesday, just over a week after being acquired at the NHL trade deadline. Jeff Petry will once again be paired with Tom Gilbert on the blue line while former Sabres Brian Flynn and Torrey Mitchell will form a line with Brandon Prust.

On the other end of the ice, the Lightning arrive in Montreal enjoying a three-game win streak which started last Tuesday against Buffalo. Most recently, John Cooper’s squad came back from a three-goal deficit on Saturday to beat the Dallas Stars 5-4.

Ondrej Palat notably registered a trio of assists in the effort, becoming Tampa’s fourth 50-plus point-getter this season, along with Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson and Steven Stamkos, who count 56, 61, and 64 points, respectively.

Ben Bishop will be in goal for the Lightning on Tuesday. In 50 games this season, the six-foot-six, 209-pound netminder has compiled a 31-11-5 record with a 2.39 goals against average and 0.913 save percentage.

The Habs are winless in two games against Tampa Bay so far this season.

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